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NGO searching for burial sites to investigate N.K. human rights abuses: report

All Headlines 17:17 August 10, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean civic group is carrying out an indirect search to find the burial sites of victims of North Korea's gross human rights violations, a U.S.-based media report said Wednesday.

According to Voice of America (VOA), the Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) is placing emphasis on examining various locations across the country where the oppressive communist regime may have buried people it killed over the years.

The group's chief secretary, Lee Young-hwan, told VOA that the ongoing survey is focused on recording and analyzing the burial locations by utilizing geographical longitude and latitude, on the basis of satellite imagery as well as the testimonies of North Korean defectors who settled in South Korea.

Moreover, the nongovernmental group (NGO) is also making efforts to look into the locations of the various levels of North Korean state organizations, including security-related units, which are directly or indirectly involved in the state sponsored human rights abuses.

To this effect, the civic group already conducted a preliminary study on how to record and manage the screening process after interviewing some 100 North Korean defectors from early last year to March this year.

According to Lee, TJWG is currently talking to a group of some 300 defectors to get more information that can aid its search.

When a report is made from the preliminary survey, the NGO will let the world know how widespread and serious the human rights abuses are that are being committed in the reclusive country.

The Pyongyang regime is known to be operating crematoriums to dispose of the victims killed by torture at the reformation and concentration camps. The victims' ashes are known to be collectively buried in specific areas.

According to Lee, the civic group is collaborating and sharing information with other international and domestic organizations, so as to hold North Korean leaders accountable for the mass atrocities and human rights abuses down the line.
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